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US politicians want to restrict sales of chip making tools to China

by on16 April 2021

Similar to Huawei attacks

Congressional China hawks are urging the Biden administration to restrict sales of chip making tools to Chinese companies.

In a letter to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Representative Michael McCaul and Senator Tom Cotton said the rule that requires US licenses to sell semiconductors made abroad with US technology to Huawei should apply to any Chinese company designing more advanced chips at 14-nanometers or below.

The letter, which is dated April 13 and was made public on Thursday, seeks licences for the sale of electronic design automation (EDA) software, among other curbs, on chip-related sales to Chinese companies.

The actions would "ensure US companies, as well as those from partner and allied countries, are not permitted to sell the communists the rope they will use to hang us all", the letter said. 

Apparently the letter was not being written in the 1950s and delivered a bit late.

Last year, the United States issued a rule requiring licences for semiconductor sales to Huawei made overseas with US chip making equipment, expanding its reach to halt exports to the company.

Huawei was added to the Commerce Department's "entity list" in 2019 over national security and foreign policy concerns.

The blacklisting restricted Huawei's sales from US suppliers but did not crack down on commercially available chips made abroad. In response, the United States expanded the Foreign Direct Product Rule, which subjects foreign made goods based on US technology or software to US regulations, for Huawei.

This week's letter was sent after Tianjin Phytium Information Technology and six other Chinese supercomputing entities were placed on the entity list for supporting military modernisation efforts.

Cotton and McCaul want to not only restrict US sales to Phytium but to require a licence for any company that uses American tools to make a Phytium-designed semiconductor chip.

Anything short, they said, "would be a half measure masquerading as a forceful action".

Last modified on 16 April 2021
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